Kids will be kids — and the Flyers love it

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Kids will be kids — and the Flyers love it

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol has devised a lot of successful combinations this season.

Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere.

But the Flyers' coach is not about to take credit for the unique and rather quirky pairing of Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny.

Oh, they have chemistry alright, even though it has nothing to do with the head coach’s line combinations.

Konecny and Patrick’s bond started to become apparent once they began sharing a hotel room on road trips. 

“I started with Provorov and then a few guys got called up and then we switched off and we started rooming together,” Patrick said Wednesday. “It just kind of happened. We have a really good relationship and it’s been lots of fun.”

Patrick can’t put his finger on it precisely, but a rough estimate for when it happened would be sometime around the holidays when the Flyers were laboring through a 1-2-1 stretch not long after their six-game winning streak.

Conveniently, their “buddy system” has spilled over into the locker room whether it’s a routine day of practice, a morning skate or a thrilling overtime win. If they’re at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, or in the visitor’s locker room of the opposition’s arena, the nameplates of Konecny and Patrick are always right next to each other. The two bang into each other while also expressing this juvenile sense of humor that only they seem to understand.

Watching their behavior is reminiscent of the days of spit wads, wet willies and flicking your best friend in the ear lobe — at least in my generation.

“He probably brings out the immaturity in me a little bit,” Patrick said. “He’s a really funny guy and I don’t know if he ever runs out of energy. He’s always talking 24/7. He’s just a pretty funny guy.”

These kind of relationships are commonly formed in college dormitories, but Patrick and Konecny are forging that bond now at hockey’s highest level. Patrick always knew about Konecny and vice versa, but considering Patrick played in the Western Hockey League and Konecny was honing his skills in the Ontario Hockey League, their paths never crossed until the Flyers drafted Patrick this past summer.

“It developed right when I got here,” Patrick said. “He was a super nice guy to me when I got here. He made me feel welcomed here.”

They’re now the odd couple with a lot in common. Obviously passionate about hockey, they also share a love of the outdoors whether it’s hunting or fishing, and they apparently possess a sense of humor that Beavis and Butt-Head would seem to appreciate, especially with their movie selections.

“They’re just stupid, funny movies,” Patrick said. “A lot of guys give it to us that they’re the dumbest movies ever. We just cry laughing watching them.”

“I feel like I’m quoting their movies as much as they are,” Jordan Weal said. “It’s pretty funny when you see those two getting together. It’s fun to join in and get the banter going. It’s a 19 and a 20-year-old kid. They’re having a lot of fun, they’re playing really well. They’re getting to room together on the road all over the country. They’re having fun right now and it’s good to see.”

It should come as little surprise that both Patrick and Konecny have elevated their play since they became road trip roommates. Konecny has torn it up on a line with Giroux and Couturier, and Patrick has become much more assertive offensively over the past few weeks and is now centering Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Carolina, Patrick was awarded the Rick Flair “Nature Boy” robe as the game’s top player for the first time this season, and when Patrick scored the game-tying goal with 2.6 seconds remaining against the Senators, Konecny rushed over to celebrate. 

The Patrick-Konecny dynamic is a reminder throughout this intensity-filled season with the tension and stress that comes in the constant battle for playoff positioning, they’re still just kids enjoying a kid’s game.

Wednesday morning was another optional skate that many veterans sat out in an effort to rest their bodies, but Patrick and Konecny were right there along with the healthy scratches from the previous night. 

“Sometimes when you get in late and you've got to come to the rink the next day and have a practice, it’s always nice to have guys who keep it loose and keep it light to lift the spirits up a bit,” Weal said.

“That’s a hard thing to do. There are expectations among everybody individually,” Hakstol said. “There are a lot of things that go into being positive and productive when you come to the rink. Those two guys continue to grow together and the fact that they can help each other in doing that a little bit, I think that’s a positive. If those two young guys can draw off one another, that’s good for our team.”

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

Ron Hextall entered his fifth draft as Flyers general manager with nine selections and left Dallas making eight of them — a pretty typical draft weekend under the Hextall regime.

With Hextall as GM, the Flyers have averaged 8.4 draft picks and their eight selections this year are the second least with him steering the ship. He made six picks in his first draft in 2014.

As the offseason now shifts onto development camp and free agency, let’s break down the weekend that was for the Flyers at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

1. The overall draft class

Hextall emphasized during last week the need to restock the Flyers’ defensive pipeline and that right-handed defensemen were a “big fill” in the organization. On Day 2, he followed through.

The Flyers used their first three picks Saturday on defensemen: Adam Ginning (50th overall), John St. Ivany (112th overall) and Wyatte Wylie (127th overall). St. Ivany and Wylie are righties.

Overall, the Flyers’ draft class from Rounds 2-7 didn’t seem to blow anyone away, but with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers, this draft wasn’t about refilling the cupboard.

What mattered most about this draft was the two first-rounders and while Jay O’Brien is a bit of a wild card, Joel Farabee was as perfect as an option the Flyers had available at No. 14 overall.

Drafts can’t be judged until three or five years down the line, so we won’t know how this overall crop will pan out. But if one of Farabee or O’Brien hit, that’s all that matters.

Farabee, especially, fits an organizational need as a quick, shoot-first natural winger.

If all goes according to plan, this draft class should be judged on the first-round picks. It’s important to find diamonds in the rough and perhaps they have. Time will tell.

But based on the Flyers’ current timetable to compete, they need at least one of these two first-rounders to turn into an impact NHL player. My money is on Farabee being just that.

2. A quiet weekend

Part of the allure of draft weekend is the constant trade speculation leading up to Round 1 and throughout the first round. Friday was a fairly quiet night in the NHL player transaction ledger.

Saturday some saw significant player movement with Ilya Kovalchuk and signing with the Kings and the Flames trading Dougie Hamilton to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindblom.

But none from the Flyers. The draft is when Hextall comes out of his cage and yells, “I am Ron, hear me roar.” For Hextall, the draft is where he does his best, and loudest, work.

Technically, this is the first draft the Flyers didn’t make any moves of note, but that is misleading. When Philly hosted the draft in 2014, Hextall’s first, the Flyers reportedly were hot in pursuit of trading up from No. 17 overall to the top pick to draft Aaron Ekblad.

In the end, Hextall couldn’t strike his magic. Every year since he has … since now. It was a weird feeling not seeing the Flyers subject of trade rumors this weekend.

The Flyers didn’t leave Dallas without making one trade, though. Hextall reached into his bag of tricks and traded the 190th overall to the Canadiens for a seventh-rounder in 2019.

3. The growth of USA hockey on full display

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers did not draft a Canadian-born player. Their breakdown goes as followed: Five Americans and three Swedes.

Hextall continued to add college-bound prospects Saturday with the selections of St. Ivany and Gavin Hain (sixth round, 174th overall). St. Ivany is headed to Yale and Hain, North Dakota.

Hain is also the second player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and was Farabee’s teammate. That’s of note because they haven’t drafted a player from the USNTDP since James van Riemsdyk (No. 2 overall) in 2007. 

If the Flyers drafting no Canadians means anything, it should be viewed as the growth of USA Hockey. It was a pretty good year for the NTDP, which had 12 players drafted.

4. Too early to compare

Of the Flyers’ Day 2 picks, Marcus Westfalt may be the most intriguing.

Westfalt was the Flyers’ final selection, taken with the 205th pick. He’s a big winger described as a two-way player. His skill level doesn’t appear to be high-end, but he has potential.

It’s easy to make comparisons to Oskar Lindblom, who fell to the fifth in 2014, but it’s far too early to make that connection. Lindblom’s issue was his skating — it needed major work.

After years of working on it, Lindblom elevated his skating up a few notches. He’s by no means a great skater now, but he improved enough to make the jump to the NHL.

At the very least, Westfalt can be chalked up as an intriguing prospect to watch overseas.

5. The name game

It wouldn't be a hockey draft without an ode to great hockey names.

The Flyers got a gem of their own: Wyatte Wylie in the fifth round.

I feel like the Coyotes should have drafted him. Wylie the Coyote.

I’ll see myself out.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• If Morin doesn't pan out, is this pick the replacement?  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

If Samuel Morin doesn't pan out, is Adam Ginning the guy to replace him?

AP Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

If Samuel Morin doesn't pan out, is Adam Ginning the guy to replace him?

DALLAS — A day after Ron Hextall announced a new three-year extension for Samuel Morin (see story), the Flyers went out and grabbed a guy who could be the Swedish version of Morin, choosing Adam Ginning with the 50th overall selection in the second round of Saturday's NHL draft (see story).

A stay-at-home defenseman, the 6-foot-4 Ginning possesses a lot of the same attributes as the 6-foot-7 Morin — grittiness, toughness, with an ability to protect the net. In fact, Ginning may be more NHL ready than Morin was when he was drafted as an 18-year-old back in 2013; Ginning started his pro hockey career in Sweden at the age of 16. 

In some ways, Hextall wasn’t expecting Ginning to be available as he described the second round as a “crapshoot” with teams going completely off the board with picks that weren’t projected to be in the top 60.

“We like his size. We like his upside,” Hextall said of Ginning. “He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman.”

With Morin looking at a lengthy six-to-nine month recovery from a torn ACL, the organization needed to add a little more muscle within the farm system now that Robert Hagg has joined the Flyers full-time.

“It fell on our list,” Hextall said. “We had two guys, two defensemen, and it fell on our list, so it was good the way it worked out for us.”     

Unlike first-round pick center Jay O’Brien, who wasn’t projected to be taken in the first round, many draft experts believed Ginning had first-round potential before slipping to the Flyers midway through Round 2.

NHL Central Scouting had Ginning listed as the third-rated international defenseman behind only fellow Swedes Rasmus Dahlin, who went No. 1 to the Buffalo Sabres, and Adam Boqvist, taken eighth overall by the Blackhawks.

Ginning has a year remaining on his contract with Linköping HC of the Swedish Hockey League before he can come to North America, which may be to his benefit since his game has been more suited to the smaller NHL-sized rink.  

“I’ll take it as it comes,” Ginning said. “It depends how I play in Sweden now in the upcoming years. We’ll see what happens.”

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition